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Government Extends Subsidized COBRA for Job-Loss Victims

Q. Is the government still subsidizing health insurance coverage for people who lose their job? Also, can you tell me where I can find updated information on this subject?

A. Yes. Congress has made more people eligible to receive up to 15 months of premium assistance under the COBRA program. Previously, this extra help was available only to people involuntarily terminated between Sept. 1, 2008, and Dec. 1, 2009. But new legislation includes people who lose their jobs before March 1 of this year.

Under COBRA, if someone wants to keep the health coverage provided by a former employer, the federal government pays 65 percent of the premium and the individual pays 35 percent. The premium assistance applies to health insurance coverage periods that began on or after Feb. 17, 2009.

For information on COBRA benefits, go to the U.S. Department of Labor’s website or call an Employee Benefits Security Administration adviser toll-free at 1-866-444-3272.

Carole Fleck is a senior editor at the AARP Bulletin.